Chanukah, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration of the Festival of Light during the Hebrew month of Kislev, which is when Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “re-dedicaion” of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Chanukah centers around the lighting of the Chanukiah, latkes, jelly doughnuts, special songs, and games.
At Temple Sinai, as a Congregation, we celebrate Chanukah with events and activities to literally bring light into the darkness.
Purim is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which relates the basic story of Purim. Under the rule of King Ahashuerus, Haman, the King’s prime minister, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction. The reading of the Megillah is typically a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman’s name is read aloud.
Pesach, known as Passover in English, is a major seven day Jewish spring festival, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The ritual observance of this holiday centers around a special home service called the seder (meaning “order”) and a festive meal; the prohibition of chametz (leaven); and the eating of matzah (an unleavened bread). On the eve of the fifteenth day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, we read from a book called the Hagaddah, meaning “telling,” which contains the order of prayers, rituals, readings and songs for the Pesach seder. The Pesach seder is the only ritual meal in the Jewish calendar year for which such an order is prescribed, hence its name.